Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


August 2010 cover image Franklin Mountains

2010-2011 Fall-Winter Birding Calendar

Binoculars up! Check out the birds heading south at these events.

By Shelly Plante & Michelle Guerra

In addition to the events listed here, Texas state parks host frequent birding activities, and a regularly updated calendar of all events at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department facilities can be found online at http://archive.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar. Search this calendar by “Events and Activities” or by “Regions” of the state to find more outdoor adventures for you and your family year-round! Bird walks, butterfly hikes, hawk watches, owl prowls and breakfast with the birds are a few of the many activities available. Go outside and explore all of the natural resources the beautiful state of Texas has to offer.

Recurring events

Daily (November – April)

Nature Tram — Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Alamo.

Enjoy a 1.5-hour tour of the refuge. Refuge admission plus $3 per adult, $1 per child. 956-784-7500 (call the visitors center before arrival to confirm that the tram is running) www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/Texas/santana.html


Interpretive Programs — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission.

Programs include viewing tropical butterflies during weekly butterfly walks, exploring the park at night in search of nocturnal creatures like tarantulas, bats, nightjars and owls and family programs focused on learning more about local critters, seasonal changes and more. Call for more details. Free with park admission. 956-584-9156; www.worldbirdingcenter.org

Monthly (August – December)

Monthly Valley Birding Excursions — various locations.

The Valley Nature Center offers informally organized birding trips across the Valley. Please call for meeting location. Aug. 14, North Edinburg; Sept. 11, Port Mansfield; Oct. 9, Longoria WMA; Nov. 13, Hidalgo County; Dec. 11, Los Ebanos Preserve. $5 for members, $8 for nonmembers. 956-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org

Every Monday

Bentsen Bird Walk — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission.

Go birding with park staff and volunteer naturalists to the best places in the park to see birds and discover more about them. 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Free with park entry. 956-584-9156;www.worldbirdingcenter.org

Every Wednesday (September – May)

Bird Walk at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park — Harlingen Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center, Harlingen.

Join guide Phil Nelson as he leads a nature walk. 7:30 a.m. Free. 956-428-2603;www.worldbirdingcenter.org/sites/harlingen/index.phtml

Every Saturday (January – March)

2011 Weslaco Natural History Series — Valley Nature Center, Weslaco.

Three-month series from Jan. 9 through March 27. 10 a.m. Members free, $3 for adults, $2.50 for 55+. 956-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org

Photo by Mike Sloat

First Saturday of Each Month (December – May)

Kids Nature Club — Valley Nature Center and Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco.

First Saturday of each month, kids ages 8-12 will meet and visit different nature parks around the Valley. $90 for the entire session. 956-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org

Second Saturday of Each Month (September – May)

Bird Walks — Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney.

Enjoy guided 1.5-hour bird walks by the Prairie & Timbers Audubon Society. 9 a.m. Free with museum admission. Registration required. 972-562-5566; www.heardmuseum.org

Guided Bird Walk — Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, Lewisville. More than 270 species of birds have been documented in 2,000 acres of forest, prairie, river and wetland habitat. These guided tours include the best locations, many not regularly open to public access. 7:30 a.m. $7 per person. Registration required. 972-219-3930; www.ias.unt.edu/llela

Photo by KAC Productions

Second Saturday of Each Month

Prairie Discovery Tours — Katy Prairie Conservancy, Waller.

Experience the magnificent wildlife of Katy Prairie. Guests are led in small, interest-focused teams. Each tour features at least one expert birding leader. Check website for times and locations. Free. Registration required. 713-523-6135; www.katyprairie.org

Third Saturday of Each Month

Birding Tours — Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, El Paso.

Observe some of the more than 200 species of birds that visit this area, with well-informed guides to help identify them. Call for reservations and information. 7 a.m. August to September, 8 a.m. October to April. $5 entry fee for adults and additional $1 activity fee for tour participants 5 years and older. 915-857-1135 or 915-849-6684.

Bird Walk and Talk — Sheldon Lake State Park, Houston.

Friends of Sheldon Lake State Park members lead informative walks through the park, trails and prairies. Perfect for beginning birders. 8:30 a.m. Free. 281-456-2800.

Second Sunday of Each Month

Beginners Bird Walk — Alamo Heights, San Antonio.

Meet at 246 Viesca St., next to Alamo Heights Pool. Binoculars provided. For birders of all skill levels. 8 a.m. (7:30 a.m. in August 2010). Free. 210-308-6788; www.saaudubon.org


Sept. 11 and 18

Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza — Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson.

See hummingbirds being banded, adopt a hummingbird, browse the Nature Store, walk the nature trails or buy a plant to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. 8 a.m. to noon. 979-480-0999; www.gcbo.org

Photo by Arthur M Peslak

Sept. 14

Fall Migration Open Gate — Warbler Woods Bird Sanctuary, Cibolo/Schertz.

Private ranch will have an “open gate” for visitors to witness this major inland stopping point for migrating birds. Please sign in and leave a bird list of what you find. 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free, donations appreciated. 210-658-0089; www.warblerwoods.org

Sept. 16 – 19

Hummer/Bird Celebration — Rockport.

Enjoy programs, outdoor exhibits, nature-related vendor booths, hummer home visits, birding boat excursions, guided field trips and more during the 22nd anniversary of this festival. 800-242-0071; www.rockporthummingbird.com

Sept. 23 – 26

Celebration of Flight — Hazel Bazemore County Park, Corpus Christi.

Head to America’s Birdiest City to witness one of nature’s wonders — the largest and most diverse hawk migration in the country. Free with registration fees for special presentations and field trips. See website for times and registration. www.VisitCorpusChristiTX.org

Photo by Todd Steele


Oct. 2

Wild West Tour – Hawks on the Move — Katy Prairie Conservancy, Waller.

Come see some of the majestic hawks and other birds that pass through the area each fall. 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. $65 per participant. Price includes meal and a donation to Katy Prairie educational programs. Registration required. 713-523-6135; www.katyprairie.org

Oct. 10

Big Sit — Rolling Plains Chapter Texas Master Naturalist, Wichita Falls.

A morning of bird watching by Lake Wichita. Birds are counted from within a 15-foot circle. 7:30 a.m. Free. 940-766-4097; http://grovesite.com/tmn/rpc


Nov. 10 – 14

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival — Harlingen.

The 17th year of this event includes organized birding trips, seminars and workshops by top birders, authors, photographers and artists and a top-notch trade show. Registration fees vary. 800-531-7346; www.rgvbirdfest.com

Nov. 18 – 21

South Texas Wildlife & Birding Festival — Kingsville.

Birding tours, presentations by experts, raptor shows, children’s activities, a vendor’s marketplace and more await you at this 11th annual event! 361-592-8516; www.kingsvilletexas.com


Dec. 11

Wild West Tour – Winter Raptors — Katy Prairie Conservancy, Waller.

You’ll have a chance to spot everything from the feisty loggerhead shrike to the regal bald eagle. 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. $65 per participant. Price includes meal and donation to Katy Prairie. 713-523-6135; www.katyprairie.org

Dec. 18

Audubon Christmas Bird Count — Iowa Park, Wichita Falls.

Birders in Wichita County participate in the annual nationwide Christmas Bird Count. Sunup to sundown. $5 per person. 940-766-4097.


Jan. 4

Audubon Christmas Bird Count — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission.

Take part in the 110th annual nationwide bird count. Small groups of volunteer birders count as many birds as they can within a 13-mile count circle that includes the park. Free with park entry. 956-584-9156; www.worldbirdingcenter.org

Jan. 8

Sheldon Lake Winter Bird Count — Sheldon Lake State Park, Houston.

Annual winter bird count seeking to document as many birds as possible in the varied habitats of the park. 7:30 a.m. Free with park entry. 281-456-2800.

Wild West Tour – Ducks & Donuts — Katy Prairie Conservancy, Waller.

Each year, thousands of honking geese and delightful ducks grace the Katy Prairie. Join an early morning wetland _adventure to spot clouds of these awe-inspiring waterfowl. 6:30 a.m. to noon. $65 per _person. Price includes meal and donation. 713-523-6135; www.katyprairie.org

Jan. 15

Wild West Tour – Sparrows, Sparrows, Everywhere — Katy Prairie Conservancy, Waller.

Join naturalists and birding guide Glenn Olsen as he teaches you how to identify and enjoy this challenging group of birds. 7:30 a.m. to noon. $65 per participant. Price includes meal and donation. 713-523-6135; www.katyprairie.org



Pontoon Boat Birding Trip — Riverside Club, Mission.

Offered by the Valley Nature Center; please see the website for more details. $18 per person. 979-969-2475; www.valleynaturecenter.org

Feb. 2 – 5

Laredo Birding Festival — Laredo.

The Amazon kingfisher visited last year — so can you! $40 registration fee and additional land access fees apply. 800-361-3360; www.visitlaredo.com

Feb. 13

Great Backyard Bird Count — Rolling Plains Chapter Texas Master Naturalist, Wichita Falls.

Birders count behind Wild Bird Rescue at Lake Wichita to participate in this nationwide program. 7:30 a.m. Free. 940-766-4097; grovesite.com/tmn/rpc

Feb. 18

Great Backyard Bird Count — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission.

Help staff naturalists count the birds and learn how to participate in this family-friendly monitoring program. Beginner birder programs, family activities and guided tours scheduled. Free with park entry. 956-584-9156; www.worldbirdingcenter.org

Feb. 24 – 27

Whooping Crane Festival — Port Aransas.

Marking its 15th year, this event celebrates the endangered whooping crane and provides a variety of options to view the cranes and the many other winter resident species in this coastal haven. Bus and boat tours, presentations, birding, optics and photography workshops, nature trade show, art show, free children’s activity corner and more. $20 registration plus activity charges. 361-749-5919; www.whoopingcranefestival.org


March 5

Naturefest — Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center, Humble.

Enjoy a fun, educational day with the family at this free event open to all ages. Take a guided nature walk and pontoon boat tour, see and touch live animals, visit a catch-and-release fish tank and learn more about other nature-related topics at the many educational booths. 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. 281-446-8588; www.hcp4.net/jones


Every Weekend

Guided Bird Watching Hikes — Brazos Bend State Park, Needville.

Join park naturalists and volunteers for guided bird watching hikes. Check the website for days and times. Free with park admission. 979-553-5101; www.brazosbend.org

April 7 – 10

Galveston FeatherFest — Galveston.

See 200-plus species of birds during spring migration at birding hot spots like Bolivar Flats and High Island. Experts lead nature and photo adventures by bus, boat or kayak to beach, bay, marsh and coastal prairie habitats. Field trips and workshops range from $10 to $70. 409-392-0841; www.galvestonfeatherfest.com

April 9 – 10

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Festival — Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, Eagle Lake.

Experience the beautiful and comical courtship dance of this critically endangered bird and the virgin coastal prairie habitat with knowledgeable refuge guides on guided bird tours and native plant tours. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free. 979-234-3021; www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/attwater

April 15 – 17

Migration Celebration — San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria County.

The Migration Celebration features several free hands-on programs for children, as well as birding tours and activities geared for beginning, intermediate and advanced birders. See water birds, orioles, tanagers, buntings and warblers! Free. 866-403-5829; www.migrationcelebration.org

April 22 – 24

Bird Migration Weekend — Brazos Bend State Park, Needville.

Come join us for programs, guided hikes and demonstrations that explore the remarkable lives of birds and other wildlife that can be found in this area. Free with park admission. 979-553-5101; www.brazosbend.org

April 24

Spring Family Fun Day — Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission.

Join us for a variety of family games and activities to celebrate springtime. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free with park entry. 956-584-9156; www.worldbirdingcenter.org

April 29 – May 1

Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival — Fredericksburg.

Enjoy guided half- and full-day field trips to view endangered species (such as the black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler), dragonflies and local butterflies, and a visit to a local bat colony as well as lectures and presentations by renowned birders and naturalists. See website for times and registration fees. www.wingsoverthehills.org



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